The balance of police enforcing criminal drug laws while also respecting individual rights and liberties is up for considerable debate. Many drug charges rise and fall on constitutional issues, specifically, the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits the police from making unreasonable searches and seizures.
Police officers routinely patrol highways and as a result traffic stop issues are often the most common legal challenges raised in court. The police are not allowed to search you, your car, or your home based on a hunch or a suspicion alone.
Many drug cases involve the use of Confidential Informants (CI) to obtain search warrants of homes, storage facilities or vehicles. The credibility of the CI – and the information provided – must be carefully reviewed to determine whether the search warrant and the subsequent investigation was lawful. The laws and limits on what the police can and cannot do changes constantly.
If the police violated your constitution rights during an investigation, you could get your criminal drug charges dismissed entirely or significantly reduced. These issues demand a high level of understanding of Minnesota drug laws.
There are five degrees of controlled substance crime.
Generally, the prosecutor decides the severity of the drug charge based on the weight of the drugs and whether there was criminal intent to possess or sell drugs. The punishments can be more severe if aggravating factors are present, such as the possession or use of a firearm or the presence of children. In Minnesota, the levels of drug crimes are: